Potty Training Trouble- Sorry It Posted Multiple Copies!

Updated on April 22, 2018
L.B. asks from Atwood, KS
10 answers

Some background to begin: My DS is now 2 years old and we have been working on potty training for about six months. I decided to start when he was a year and a half and take it slow. He was doing really, really well with potty training; he usually warned me when he had to go and only had the occasional accident; even with the accidents he would tell me right away. And his attitude about using the potty was super positive, he was always excited to use his potty and earn a sticker (which I was using as a reward system).
However, due to some issues (not relevant to the question) DH and I have decided to try separation for a while. For the past two months, DH has been living elsewhere and has only been able to visit for a couple days each month. I know the situation is hard on my son, because he is used to dad being around. I've tried to keep everything as normal as possible for him at home: we're still in our house, we follow the same routine as we always have, he talks to his father over Skype daily.
Over all, DS has been handling the situation fairly well, there haven't been any major behavior changes (no tantrums) or things of that nature. The only area where he has regressed is the potty training.
Please keep in mind, I have NO intention of pushing him to be potty trained. I've done this entire process on his timeline (I mean as much as potty training can be) and I'm fine if he ends up staying in diapers/pull-ups for a little longer than I had originally planned. However, I don't want to drag out potty training and end up with a 4 year old who is still in diapers, ya know?

For the past 2 or 3 weeks, DS has been going in his diaper without saying anything to me, which is unusual for him. He seems to have lost interest in using his potty and earning stickers. For about the past week he has been denying that he went in his diaper (Mom: "Did you go potty?" DS: "No!") and he doesn't like to have his diaper changed when he is wet. When I ask him about going, I don't accuse, I keep my tone calm.

I really don't want to make potty training a negative thing for him!

I'm not sure if this is normal behavior or if it is just the result of our family situation. Anyway, I'd love some advice about how to get us back on the potty track.

ETA: DH was not a big part of the potty training process. I was 'in charge' of the process, so DH kind of sat back and let me handle it.

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answers from Anchorage on

He is still very young, leave him be and he will let you know when he is interested in trying again.

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answers from Norfolk on

Some kids train early and some on the later side.
Some girls train closer to 2.
Right around 3 or 3 1/2 yrs old seem to be fairly easy training at that age.

They can better express themselves with words.
They can handle simple dressing and undressing.
They often don't like how a soggy diaper feels (although some never care).
If they are in preschool sometimes a little peer pressure can be your friend.

By 4 yrs old unless there's some special needs issue - usually kids are pretty good with using the bathroom - although accidents can happen right up through 6 yrs old.

If you start feeling angry or you sense you are getting into a power struggle - step back on trying and try again in a few months.
One sign of readiness many parents over look is - they gotta want to - and you can't make them.

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answers from Columbus on

A year and a half is really early to potty train. And it doesn't seem like he ever got to the point where he was fully trained, because he was still using a diaper and telling you that he needed to go rather than just going. I think maybe he just started too early and didn't have the cognitive skills necessary to be successful at that point. Transitioning from diapers to a toilet is much easier when a child is closer to 3. There's not a lot of training required.

Even though you didn't pressure him, you gave him rewards when he did use the toilet. So he understands that using a potty is really good, and not using it isn't good because he doesn't get sticker when he goes in his diaper.

When you add a major change in his life to a mix, it's no surprise he lost interest.

I'd back off for now. Just tell him once that if he wants to use the toilet to let you know, And if he doesn't want to you'll help him get cleaned up. And then let go.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a really good brochure on potty training that I'd recommend that you read.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I didn't really train my girls. They actually both just told me they were done with diapers. I actually wanted to wait until fall with my youngest but every time I put a diaper on her she took it off and told me she wanted underwear.

Training just shouldn’t be this difficult or take this long. Put him back in diapers. He won’t wear them when he’s 4 and you’ll save yourself a lot of aggravation.

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answers from Allentown on

Hi, sorry you are going through a difficult time. I’m just going to give you my opinion, take it or leave it. My children are now 26 (boy), 23 (girl), so I’m older (late 50s). My older sister who was a Lamaze teacher & has 5 children, did this and I ended up doing this. (It almost killed me in the process, especially, due to what others thought, but here goes...) my son was 4 when finally potty trained and my daughter was over 3. They NEVER wet their pants or bed til this day. EVER. I took each of them when they were about 2 (cuz everybody was bugging me to potty train them- esp relatives) to a store & said “would you like to pick out some underwear so you can be a “big” boy/girl?
They were curious... but when they saw a character on them, that they liked, that was a good first step. Came home & said, when you want to be “big”, you can wear these and explained when they didn’t want to feel yucky in their diaper anymore, they could wear them, and I put them in a low dresser drawer they could open. They both trained themselves. ~Seriously~ I thought my sister was nuts when she told me to do this, but it worked. For my 2, and her 5 kids.
Like I said, since then, never an accident. And I would praise them when they went on the potty and never scolded them in between. Get ready, but it’s not in a boy’s DNA to talk like girls, I think, so if he is going through a tough time, missing DH, this might be part of the issue. It’s hard to really know & if you have others watching him also, you can’t be sure what influence they are making on him. You can talk to him & say, this may be a hard time for you to potty train, but don’t worry, I have confidence in you that when you are ready, you’ll do just fine & give him a big hug. You can also say, I’ll always be here for you & constantly reinforce that) in case there is an anxiety issue going on in his little ( cute) mind. This will relieve you of worrying & make him feel better even if he’s small. Kids are really tuned in to everything we do, whether we are realizing it or not. Think of it this way for the rest of your life with your child~ kids are like sponges ~ they abdorb anything you throw at them. If you talk bad, if you’re frowning, these are learned behaviors. So, for a good experience, always talk nice around your child, give them lots of hugs & love & positive words, and only talk nice about others. And if you cry in front of them, explain that you are sad. This may be terribly hard to do, at times, but they ABSORB everything!
You will “grow” a very wonderful human being if you try to stay positive & kind around him. And Good luck. Wishing you the best!
And shame on that man for not stepping up to the plate to help you,or work with you, ~especially~ if he helped create this special human being too. My advise, Find a good one that will. Life flies by quickly!
Look for someone that will be helpful to you & your child. That would be in your best interest.
You & your son are much too important!!!!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

you started potty training very young. it's great that he took to it well, but not one tiny bit surprising that a family upheaval has knocked him back a few steps.
going in his diaper is a pretty small reaction to it all. denying that he did so is absolutely understandable. you're doing right not to sound accusatory, but he's still very well aware that he's not doing what mommy wants.
stop asking and putting him in the situation where lying is his easiest option.
assume that he's going to backslide. stop attempting to 'train' at all for a while.
worry less about 'getting back on track' than taking the pressure off your very, very young son who is coping with a bewildering and upsetting life circumstance.
let him know that you're not one bit upset at him using diapers and that whenever he's ready to try using the potty like a big boy you will be there to help him.
let. it. go.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My feeling is that this could have happened regardless of your husband's living situation.

If kids are ready to use the potty, it doesn't take 6 months or more. You just don't really "train" this, you know? I think you got lucky for a while, in that he told you he had to go, but he never really made it all the way to being dry reliably. Most kids can say they have to go, sit on the potty, and have something come out, whether or not they really had that feeling! Or, the novelty wore off. As you know 2 is incredibly young - yes, some kids do it, but the vast majority do not.

I'd stop discussing it entirely. Stop asking him if he went, stop asking him if he has to go. It doesn't matter if you are calm or not - he's going to feel pressure if he's not really ready for this. That may be why he doesn't want to be changed now when he's wet - because he knows it's what you want and he can't do it.

Try leaving the issue totally alone. See what happens. If he starts asking to use the potty totally on his own, you can resume. But if he waits months, that's not surprising.

And by the way, mine was well past 4 before he was reliably dry during the day. He wasn't ready developmentally. He met all his other milestones so there were no other factors. He was also wet at night until 12. We started medication at age 7 or so after consulting with several doctors. It was a great decision and let him sleep at night, go to sleepovers, go to camp, stay with Grandma, etc. So you just don't know where your child will end up. It's much easier if you stay open to things.

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answers from Portland on

I started young (sometime after 2) with my first, and he lost interest - so then I gave up and waited till closer to 3 and then it was comparatively a piece of cake (done in short order), and did so with the rest. Our daycare said they found the same thing.

I don't think it's tied to regression - but it can be. Hard to say. When they are a bit older, there's less of a novelty thing tied to it (and less needs for rewards - or so I found, I only needed one day of candies then they lost interest in that and were just ready to go on the potty, then quickly on the toilet after that).

*When mine were ready, we went right to underpants for 'training'. That's the advantage of being a bit older - they can yank them down and up (and then elastic waist pants and shorts). Mine couldn't just regress and go back to peeing in diapers/pull ups.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I blame the family troubles. If dad moves back he might get back to how he was with training. If dad does not move back it might take longer than you want it to for him to get back to training. For now I would give the child a few weeks of no pressure about the potty and then try again. Settle the family troubles and seek marriage counseling if you need help with the marital issues.



answers from Chicago on

The inevitable potty regression. My kids all trained early (day and night by 2). In any case, there are natural, inevitable regressions.

I did not use any stickers or rewards with my kids (they do not work in the long run and destroy internal motivation), All I did was tell them pee and poop go in the potty, and then I directed them there. if they had an accident, I would throw them in the tub and wash them clean and just say," pee goes in the potty. when you feel pressure here (touch lower abs), we go to the potty." They all got it very quickly.

I also encouraged underwear. I think diapers prolong the process as it makes it easier to have accidents. With all of them, when they were getting 70-80% in the potty, we moved on to undies. I told them that once they were using it regularly, they could pick out their own underwear. My youngest trained in a few days near her 2 bday because she wanted cool undies like her older siblings. Each kid has their own internal reason. My son just couldn't stand being dirty.

Just hang in there and do not make a big deal about it. If he doesn't want you to change the diaper, have you tried letting him change himself? Instead of asking if he went potty, if you know he did, just say," do you want me to change your diaper or do you want to change your diaper." Never ask questions that can be easily answered with No (mind you choice questions eventually get answered with NO, but at his age, he shouldn't be doing that).

When my kids had potty regressions, I would just not even mention the potty for a day or so, and then I would say, OK, let's put our pee and poop in the potty, and we'd just start up again.

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